This month, Kristen Bateman takes us back Kenzo Takada’s 1998 spring show where the legendary designer presented a kaleidoscope of pom-pom hairdos and flower petal lids
The hair and make-up on the runway is often very experimental. Creative freedom combines with eclectic visions from designers to bring together the ultimate fantasy. Runway Retrospectives is a column that explores some of the most legendary catwalk beauty looks of all time.
By the late 90s, Japanese designer Kenzo Takada, who started his brand in the 70s to showcase his own take on fashion cultures from all around the world, had long been known for having runway shows with dramatic impact. Many of his shows, in fact, verged on theatre - in 1974, he staged his first show in Japan and people paid to get tickets to watch models dance down the runway.
Beyond that, the designer made it clear that he had a passion for make-up, cosmetics and fragrance. He launched perfume early on in his career. Flower, still in production and popular today, was one of the signature scents he created in the 80s. So it’s no wonder the beauty moments of many of his shows are inspirational all these years later.
For the spring 1988 show, Kenzo tapped hairstylist Romain Sorin to lead the creative direction of the hair, while make-up was handed over to Shiseido’s make-up team, who Kenzo had a longstanding relationship with. As for the lead make-up artist from Shiseido, the name remains lost to time, even by Kenzo’s own team. Other notable names include legendary French actress and it-girl Laetitia Casta who walked the show triumphantly.
For his spring 1998 collection, Kenzo Takada offered a colourful take on the 90s minimal silhouette. Breezy, zebra print blouses worn unbuttoned to the bust with mega-short shorts with tube dresses and pencil skirts grounded the collection firmly in the bodycon movement of the time. This was also one of the designer’s last collections before his retirement in 1999, meaning it pulls extra weight as one of the last great collections of the designer’s career.
“By mixing neutral and vibrant colour palettes with ethnic garment references, the collection was all about embracing the modern, professional woman, in any context,” Kenzo tells Dazed Beauty. “From opaque, floral beachwear to flowing Summer suits in silk, the spring 1998 collection celebrated the boldness and the strong nature of women from all over the world.”
One of the overall themes of the collection was femininity, and it could be seen as a whole throughout the show, but particularly cemented in the hair and make-up. “We wanted to make people dream,” Takada adds. “Make-up and hair is always very important in our shows. It brings more personality and character. Ultra-feminine looks accentuated the feminine nature behind the clothing.” For make-up, Shiseido’s make-up team created psychedelic flower petal-like details, which were splashed around the eye area in unconventional colours such as lime green and periwinkle, with a bit of the same colour swiped on their lips to give the effect of a painting in motion.
As for the hair, models wore supersize tie dye pom-poms atop their heads by hairstylist Romain Sorin. Sorin slicked-back models’ hair and left only a minimal amount of baby hairs around the hairline before securing the supersized pom-poms on top of their heads in different arrangements.
The show took place in Paris, Takada’s main source of inspiration for much of his career. “Paris gave me the freedom to live and create,” he said, in his newly released self-titled tome. “I left Japan because I was dreaming of Paris.” For the occasion, the designer built a fake sand dune in the middle of a warehouse-like space. Before each model walked the runway, a fluttering hologram image of them walking towards the audience appeared. Given travel had been one of the main sources of inspiration for the designer, it’s no surprise he recreated a desert scene with equally exotic make-up and hair to match. “Traveling gave me a lot of inspiration,” says Takada. “In the '70s, there was much more of a cultural gap than there is today, when you were travelling from one country to the next. That’s what really drove me and gave me a lot of influence and inspiration.”
While the clothing was an exploration of the designer’s range of capabilities (from business casual to clubby separates) the make-up and hair were rooted firmly in Kenzo’s colourful, jungle-inspired signature aesthetic which made him so famous as a designer in the first place. Take, for example, the mega pom-poms woven in the hair. Most of the poms slightly matched the model’s hair colour, which gave them all an overall surreal look, as if the poms were actually a part of each model’s hair. Each one ended up looking slightly wild and animalistic with the dramatic, bold shape and painterly touches of colour swatched throughout.
It’s no wonder Kenzo was keen on the look: the designer has long been obsessed with animal prints, nature and the jungle -- after all, he decorated his first-ever boutique in Paris with a jungle theme, and the tiger motif had long been embedded within the DNA of the brand. The petal motif around the eyes is also one that remains particularly modern and influential today: looking at Valentino’s spring 2019 couture show, Pat McGrath’s feather petal lashes give a similar effect of the ones Kenzo and Shiseido created nearly 20 years prior.
HOW TO GET THE LOOK
To get the delicate floral petal eyes, you’ll need a very fine brush, such as Make Up For Ever’s Calligraphy Brush - 400. To get the unconventional bright hue around the eyes, try some of the shades from Claropsyche’s Psyche’s Box palette and freehand the delicate floral shapes. Gently brush some of the same colours on your lips in an abstract swipe. Use Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer to keep the rest of the face clear, neutral and bare. Spray Urban Decay’s All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray to set everything in place. For the hair, you’ll need a classic strong hold hairspray such as Elnett Satin Strong Hold Hairspray to keep hair back in place. Visit the craft store to pick up some pom-poms - the kind made out of string -- and secure them on top of hair with small, clear elastics.